An historic weekend at the BOK Center in Tulsa saw the Oklahoma Sooners wrestling team crowned Co-Big 12 Champions, tying the Oklahoma State Cowboys with 124 team points at the Big 12 Championships.
The Sooners earned conference title No. 24, and clinched their first team title since 2002.
“I’m proud of the way the guys fought, you know, and that’s what we’re trying to get at, to a place where you’re building leads and you’re getting bonus points and we’re working at that,” Oklahoma head coach Lou Rosselli said. “A lot of it paid off and they did a really nice job.
“It’s really nice to see our team fight the way they’re fighting, and it brings a lot of pride back to OU wrestling.”
Heading into Sunday’s action, OU held an 11-point lead over the Cowboys and had nine wrestlers still in action, the most of any school.
Dom Demas (141 pounds) defeated Iowa State’s top seed Ian Parker to win an individual Big 12 Championship, but the Sooners were unable to clinch an outright win over the Cowboys in two other finals.
“What I was really proud of was (Demas) doesn’t love to ride, but he’s been doing a better job of it, and that’s what won him the match,” Rosselli said. “I think if he continues on that path, when he gets in those heaters like he was tonight, will make a difference and it did tonight and he won a Big 12 Championship from it, so real proud of him.”
Mitch Moore (149) lost the decision to Boo Lewallen, and Anthony Madrigal (133) fell to Daton Fix, though Madrigal improved on his last outing against Fix from the last Bedlam matchup.
“You saw, the second Bedlam, what happened to Fix, you know, Fix dominated (Madrigal), and then this match was pretty close,” Rosselli said. “(Madrigal) showed tonight that he’s making progress and that matters to me.”
As a result, Oklahoma took a four-point lead into the 197-pound final between Oklahoma State’s A.J. Ferrari and Wyoming’s Stephen Buchanan. Ferrari needed a win to pull OSU level with the Sooners, and had the ability to win the team title outright with bonus points.
After dominating the matchup, Ferrari was unable to score the bonus point necessary to end Oklahoma’s hopes, and the Sooners and Cowboys shared the championship.
“Everybody knew what was at stake,” Rosselli said. “We tried to cinch it up in earlier rounds and it just didn’t happen. I knew that if we had a couple of more wins here or there that it would be over, but it came down to this where (Oklahoma State) had to tie us. But I think everyone was giving everything they could give.”
The party won’t last long in Norman, however, as there is a quick turnaround to prepare for the NCAA Championships.
“I think the highs, I guess, the winning and losing, it’s a little short lived,” Rosselli said. “Tomorrow they’re off, the next day's back to work and then you just go back to living your life and go back to work.
“Tuesday morning it’s back to what we do. … We’ve got a short week and then it’s off to the NCAA Tournament.”
The NCAA Wrestling Championships will take place March 18-20 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, MO.
“I’m not just excited, but proud of the way they operated and worked all year,” Rosselli said. “I know they gave extra effort and you know, it showed, and that’s why we’re co-champions.”